How New Zealand's smart cities focus is paying off

Sun, 2017-06-04 06:02 -- Kevin Ebi

I had the pleasure of spending three days in New Zealand just a few weeks ago, engaging with smart cities leaders and understanding where their journey is on the smart cities pathway. It is certainly a bright future on the smart cities front in New Zealand and we look forward to supporting the market place in the coming years.

As we reported a few weeks ago, the New Zealand central government has just wrapped a national, multi-city proof of concept program which saw a number of cities test various technology and data solutions to enhance liveability and sustainability outcomes. In this article, we see the diverse smart cities solutions that are the finalists of an Asia Pacific Awards scheme by SCC Partner IDC. — Adam Beck

Throughout the Asia-Pacific region, New Zealand is turning into a hotbed for smart cities development, according to a new report by IDC Asia/Pacific.

New Zealand is strongly represented in IDC’s Smart City Asia Pacific Awards — a finalist in 6 out of the 14 award categories. In the region, only China was a finalist in more categories. IDC is a Council Associate Partner.

In announcing the finalists, IDC reported that it was impressed by New Zealand’s drive to turn smart cities technologies into solutions — not just leave them on the drawing board.

“These successful cases show that smart city solutions are no longer just in the concept phase in New Zealand,” said Jefferson King, associate market analyst at IDC New Zealand. “Real innovation is taking place, with clear benefits for the economy.”

New Zealand’s honoured projects
The honoured projects range from stretching resources to improving traffic flow to helping businesses optimize their offerings for the potential customer base.

One of the projects that advanced as a finalist uses mobile phone data to better understand the people who visit a tourist district. The data is anonymized and available to businesses and event companies so they can get a better idea of where tourists come from and where they go.

A project led by the Waikato District Health Board uses smartphones to bring medical care to people who may find it difficult to travel to their doctor. A smartphone app lets them get a basic consultation with a general practitioner without having to leave home.

Making strong use of real-time data was a key theme in several of the country’s projects:

  • Auckland Transport uses a combination of real-time data from its buses, ticket sales and other information to better plan routes and experiment with congestion-relieving ideas, such as dynamic pricing.
  • Wellington has installed a comprehensive sensing platform to collect data on air and water quality, waste management, pedestrian mobility, parking and graffiti detection to optimize the responses within several city departments.
  • The Oamaru Water Treatment Plant in the Waitaki District installed smart sensors at the same time that it upgraded its water filter technology, allowing it to better measure the impacts of its efforts.

The efforts are making a difference
“If you look at the breadth of industries that these projects are influencing, it illustrates how data and analytics are being used to drive the New Zealand economy,” Kind said. “There are clear external benefits to these applications; ranging from more efficient use of public resources to attracting foreign direct investment and skilled employees to New Zealand.”